A population’s average stature reflects its cumulative net nutrition and provides important insight when more traditional measures for economic well-being are scarce or unreliable. Heights on the U.S. Central Plains did not exhibit the antebellum paradox instantiated in the eastern urban areas; they increased markedly during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, becoming the tallest in the world. Whites were taller than blacks on the Central Plains where slavery was not the primary source of labor, but whites were also taller than blacks in the American South where it was. Immigrants from industrialized Europe were shorter than black and white Americans but taller than Latin Americans and Asians.
© 2017 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.